...I want to share a most delicious new quick bread recipe I've made several times to great acclaim. Hosting my writing group every week has turned me into a quick bread baking machine, ever on the prowl for new and different recipes.
The other day, when Nick Malgieri's new baking book, The Modern Baker, arrived, I sat down to read it. He starts out with wonderfully detailed descriptions of frequently used baking ingredients (e.g., ALWAYS use softened butter and room temperature eggs). Following his advice--room temp butter--does cut down on spontaniety, but I understand the principle.
His very first recipe--Fennel Fig and Almond Bread (p. 42)--sounded so delicious that I ran to the store the next morning to get the figs and almonds so I could bake the bread immediately. It's every bit as delicious as its name implies. And so long as you remember to take the butter and eggs out an hour or two before preparation, it's so easy as to be embarrassing.
Here's what you do:
2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 t fennel seeds crushed
2/3 c sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 c milk
1 1/2 c (8-9 oz) stemmed and diced white or black dried figs
1 c (4 oz) slivered almonds, lightly toasted
One 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan, buttered and bottom lined with a rectangle of parchment paper or buttered wax paper cut to fit. (NB: I didn't use paper and it came out just fine)
Set rack in middle level of the oven and preheat to 350.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and fennel seeds in a medium bowl and stir well to mix.
In large bowl, beat butter until smooth, then beat in sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
Beat 1/2 flour mixture into butter and egg mixture, then gently beat in milk, about 1/3 at a time. Beat in remaining flour mixture. Use large spatula to fold in figs and almonds.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake bread ntil it is well risen and a toothpick or narrow bladed knifte inserted into the center of the bread emerges clean, about 1 hour
Cool bread in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold it and cool it completely on a rack.
Cut bread into thin slices and serve with butter or cream cheese (or just plain, for God's sakes!).
Freeze if not using within 3-4 days.
This is so winsome that you must drop everything and make it NOW!